SEFFNER, Fla. (WFLA) — Eastern Hillsborough County could be considered a pickleball desert, but that could change with the addition of eight pickleball courts at Mango Park and Recreation Center.
“My social life has completely changed since picking up pickleball,” Jenn Frost said.
Frost picked up a pickleball paddle for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My girlfriends and I were looking for something to do, because there was nothing to do, right, everything was closed,” Frost said. “Gyms were closed.”
Three and a half years later, Frost and her friends play the nation’s fastest growing sport throughout the week. But the Valrico resident said they often have to wait because there aren’t enough courts in eastern Hillsborough County.
“If you go there any time of the day, weekends or nights, there’s going to be anywhere from 20, 40 to 50 people deep waiting for two courts,” Frost said.
Frost said she’s excited about the plan to build new courts in Seffner.
“The Mango Recreation Center here is a site that’s centrally located near I-75 and I-4 that would be ideal for pickleball because it’s a staff site where we have staff to facilitate and teach lessons,” said Jason Mackenzie, Hillsborough County’s parks planner and development manager.
The parks and rec department hosted an open house Wednesday to inform neighbors at the changes that will come with pickleball players flocking to Mango Park.
“There’s LED lights,” McKenzie said. “There will be bright lights at night, pickleballs have a sound. It’s different from tennis. It’s more of a thumping sound. There will be increased traffic at this site.”
Frost said her friends hope to cut the ribbon when the new pickleball courts open.
“We’re super stoked,” she said. “We don’t have to drive 35-40 minutes to get to a court.”
The price tag for the new courts is $600,000. Hillsborough County commissioners have already approved paying for the project using federal stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan.
Once complete, the pickleball courts will be open from sunrise through 10 p.m.